Keeping records of your web 2.0 business September 15, 2009

At the recent NSW Public Sphere event at Parliament House hosted by Penny Sharpe MLC, NSW government organisations including the NSW Police, the Department of Education and Training and NSW Transport and Infrastructure spoke about initiatives in their organisations that are taking advantage of new and popular web 2.0 technologies such as wikis, microblogging (Twitter), photo and document sharing sites and blogs.

Many of us can feel threatened and anxious when new ways of working appear on the scene, expecially when they are associated with technology which we may not fully understand. However the flipside of this is to recognise that when any new technology is introduced into your organisation, it is an opportunity to demonstrate the value of recordkeeping advice and how it can help with managing risk.


Let’s imagine that your organisation has set up its own Twitter account. The purpose of it might be similar to Mosman Council’s, that is, to inform constituents of what’s happening in Mosman (see

Or like the NSW Police it might be to report news and events that might affect the public or seek assistance in investigations (see

Just from these two examples it is clear that this technology can be used for purposes that have different degrees of risk associated with them. In each case, a recordkeeping professional can advise on matters like:

  • What recordkeeping requirements exist for these types of communications? Are they going to be regarded as formal or informal communications and what risk would be associated with not keeping them as records?
  • How long do they need to be kept?
  • What other records are being kept that document this kind of interaction with the public and how can we relate them?
  • What records of the establishment and management of the Twitter account should be kept?
  • What are some options for routine capture of Tweets to an official recordkeeping system?
  • What information has to be kept with the Twitter records (Twecords?) to ensure they can be found and used (metadata)

Answering these and other questions will be an important part of establishing a set of rules and practices for the use of the Twitter account, which would also address matters such as privacy, complaints and appropriate use.

Getting a seat at the table not always easy, especially when the records team is traditionally left out of ICT driven initiatives.

One way might be to offer a practical, low cost solution such as one of the free tools explained in Charnita Fance’s blog posting ‘How To Backup Your Twitter Archive’ posted on ( – thanks to Katharine Stuart for finding this!) These include TweetBackup – which allows you to export up to 3,200 tweets in RSS, text or HTML – Tweet XML or Tweettake.

For further information on managing records of web 2.0 business, check out our guidelines Records management and web 2.0

Jon September 21st, 2009

Hopefully the police will continue to embrace Web 2.0 properties as many of the younger people of today primarily use them to communicate rather than traditional media such as the television or radio.

Trevor October 29th, 2009

I agree that if we embrace the social media, we will be more hands on in our approach to improve the waywe do business.

Shaun September 22nd, 2010

Social media is hugely powerful. I am better informed today both on government policy and news media than I have ever been.

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